Natural gas is a relatively inexpensive fuel that offers some great advantages if you use it correctly. In fact, it’s really one of the safer fuels around for home use.
Natural Gas Advantages
Not only is gas cost-efficient, but it also does not waste time — once the pilot light in your appliance lights up and spreads to the burners, the heat is at full strength immediately.
The gas itself is odorless, but a chemical is added to the gas to give it a distinct smell. If a leak forms or if a pilot light goes out, you will smell the added odor and be able to take action immediately.
If you’re worried about the flammability of gas and the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, here are some things you should know:
- Natural gas has a limited range of flammability, meaning that there can be only a certain amount of gas in the air for it to be flammable (in this case, 4-15 percent of the air).
- It also disperses very quickly, reducing the chances of that range of flammability occurring.
- Natural gas requires a very high temperature for ignition — nearly 1100 F.
As for carbon monoxide, have at least one working carbon monoxide detector for every level of your home. Also, proper appliance maintenance will reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning substantially.
Steps to Take if You Smell Gas
If you smell gas you need to be careful. Follow these steps if you smell gas in or around your home:
- Get out of the building! Call the gas company from a cell phone outside and away from the building.
- Don’t turn anything on or off that could produce a spark. This includes: light switches, phones (again, go outside to call), computers, anything plugged in, or other appliances. Also, don’t turn your car engine on or off if the car is in your garage or next to the building.
- Do not start smoking.
- Take the stairs to get out of the building — don’t use an elevator.
Operating and Maintaining Gas Appliances
- Have your home’s heating system and other gas appliances inspected yearly by a qualified technician or by your utility company.
- Replace (or clean, if applicable) your furnace filter per the manufacturer’s recommendation. Also, replacing or cleaning air furnace filters will improve efficiency.
- Keep HVAC vent openings clean and unblocked. Also, don’t place furniture on or in front of these.
- Don’t store chemicals like paint stripper, bleach, deicing salt, laundry softeners, glues, or other similar substances near a furnace.
- Have flues (for chimneys, heaters, range hoods, and other appliances) inspected and cleared regularly. These flues must be open and clean to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide forming.